Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked finance minister Tito Mboweni to work on his idea for an economic advisory panel. 

The economy has been a key focus for Ramaphosa since he took office in February, with the president announcing a stimulus package in September in a bid to boost growth.

Ramaphosa announced in his maiden state of the nation address that he would be appointing a presidential economic advisory panel, to ensure greater coherence and consistency in implementing economic policy; however, this has not yet happened.

Mboweni, while making opening remarks at an economic colloquium held at the SA Reserve Bank in Pretoria, said Ramaphosa had asked him to start thinking about the council.

Speaking later on the sidelines of the colloquium, which was attended by academics, economists and different industry professionals, as well as economic development minister Ebrahim Patel, trade and industry minister Rob Davies and Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago,  Mboweni told journalists that he could not give a specific timeline as to when the council would be appointed.

“I can't tie the hands of the president with time,” Mboweni said.

In terms of the actual work to be done at the colloquium, Mboweni said it would deal with economic growth possibilities in SA.   

“Don't expect any groundbreaking, historic conclusions to be drawn, but expect conclusions that are part of a conversation going forward in search of solutions for SA’s economic growth challenges,” Mboweni told journalists.

As part of his address to the colloquium’s participants, Mboweni said the observation was that SA’s economy was not growing at rates “we would have loved to see”.

The Treasury expects growth of 1.7% while the Reserve Bank is more optimistic at 1.9%. The World Bank sees slightly more anaemic growth of 1.3%.

Mboweni said the slow economic growth would have a number of implications.

“For us at the ministry of finance, the most significant implication is poor revenue collection. Poor revenue collection obviously leads to a whole number of things, in particular that we are not able to allocate resources for the much-desired needs of the country,” Mboweni said.

He added that other consequences of poor economic growth were that people were becoming more marginalised economically, while the population growth rate was also expanding. 

Mboweni said the colloquium would reconvene in a smaller working group in January with the aim of preparing for the cabinet strategic planning meeting, which would take place at the end of January.

He said it was hoped they would be able to give cabinet a substantive report by then.